Tuesday, 12 November, 2019

Twenty die as Mexico oil pipeline explodes

Twenty die as Mexico oil pipeline explodes 20 killed in huge fire at Mexican fuel pipeline
Rhonda Young | 19 January, 2019, 21:59

Video taken before the fire showed the oil spouting metres into the air as people approached with buckets at about 5pm local time (11pm GMT).

Forensic specialists on Saturday worked among the charred corpses at the scene, which was guarded by soldiers as a smell of fuel still hung in the air.

Footage from the scene showed multiple fires and a huge flame shooting into the sky.

Fuel theft, known locally as "huachicoleo" (or moonshining) is rampant in some Mexican communities.

Residents who live in the immediate vicinity of the pipeline, which runs from the cities of Tuxpan to Tula, have been evacuated, Pemex said.

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Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has launched a major crackdown on increasing fuel theft, which has cost the country more than £2.3bn a year ago, according to the government. The effort to tap the fuel lines comes as the people experienced a series of gas shortages due to the country's effort to crack down on the widespread theft of fuel and oil products at the hands of drug cartels and organized crime groups.

Petroleos Mexicanos said its specialists were working in coordination with local authorities to deal with the fire caused by an illegal tap on its pipeline in Tlahuelilpan, a town in Hidalgo. He said that he had already been to six local hospitals looking for Hugo, but had found no sign of him yet.

"I am deeply saddened by the suffering in Tlahuelilpan caused by the explosion of a pipeline", the leftist leader Obrador wrote earlier on Twitter, as can be seen below.

Another pipeline burst into flames earlier on Friday in the neighbouring state of Queretaro as a result of another illegal tap.

"I call on the whole government to assist people there".

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Thieves drilled about 12,581 illegal taps in the first 10 months of 2018 and the country has deployed 3,200 marines to guard pipelines and refineries.

"I urge the entire population not to be complicit in fuel theft", Mr Fayad posted (in Spanish).

The new administration has also shut down pipelines to detect and deter illegal taps, relying more on delivering fuel by tanker truck.

It is unclear whether Friday's tragedy will turn the tide of opinion against the gangs in the impoverished villages that lie above the underground pipelines.

The war against fuel theft was a theme repeated by people in Tlahuelilpan, which is crossed by pipelines and located just a few miles from a refinery.

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